Saunders County NEGenWeb Project
Past and Present of Saunders County Nebraska, 1915



CHAPTER III

THE STORY OF THE FIRST PEOPLE AND INCIDENTS IN SAUNDERS COUNTY

THE FIRST SETTLER

   The first white settler within the territory now embraced in Saunders County, Nebraska, was Joseph Stambaugh. Associated with him and closely following his advent into the county, were the following: Reuben Warbritton, John Aughe, Harrison Ramsey, Austin Smith, John Smith, Henry Howe, Stephen Brown, Solomon Henry and a Mr. Aldrich. These men came prior to and in 1860.

   Before the year 1856 the land now within Saunders had not been visited by any white man with the purpose of making a settlement. The vicinity of Ashland was the site of the first settlements. The old Government trail from Plattsmouth and Nebraska City via Fort Kearney, Fort Laramie and Fort Bridger, passed through the present site of Ashland, crossing Salt Creek at this point, then called Saline Ford, which was also known then as the only rock-bottomed ford in the creek and consequently the only point over which heavy freight caravans might cross with safety. This made the location very desirable. Many were the emigrant bands that crossed here or camped on the ridge nearby. The fame of this ford spread to dishonest ears, for soon some speculators, casting their eyes into the future, when a city should rest here, made claims, staked out a town site and erected a frame building on each side of the creek at the ford. Strange enough, these were abandoned in 1856 and were never reclaimed.

   There have been contradictory statements made and written as to the exact time of the coming of Stambaugh, Warbritton and Aughe. Hon. Moses Stocking, in a brief history of the

33


34          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

county, published in the first five issues of the Wahoo Republican, in the early '70s, states "Mr. Joseph Stambaugh, who located upon section 35, of town 13, range 9, of sixth principal meridian, September 6, 1856, has the honor of being the first white settler in Saunders County." According to this same account by Mr. Stocking, Stambaugh and his heroic wife were entitled to a great amount of credit for their fortitude and heroism in coining to this county. The Pawnee Indians were "thick as grasshoppers" and were a constant source of trouble to Stambaugh during the first years of their stay here. They had, in fact scarcely settled upon their purchase, before they were compelled to leave it and seek protection with friends in Cass County, probably at Plattsmouth. Their first house was burned by the Indians. Early in the following spring it seems they returned to Saunders County and erected a new home. There was not a postoffice, store or even a blacksmith shop nearer than Plattsmouth, over thirty miles, and the journey there consumed several days, many unbridged' streams between having to be crossed. The first house erected by Stambaugh was built of sod, the common material where there was no wood to be had, for it must be remembered that no welcome trees greeted the sight as one looked over the land; nothing but billowy prairie, covered with coarse grass. Mr. Stocking also states that John Stambaugh, the second son of this pioneer couple, was the second white child born in the county, April 9, 1858.

   Continuing from the same authority -- Reuben L. Warbritton-ton and family, and John Auglie, accompanied Mr. Stambaugh on his return to the county in the spring of 1857. Mr. Aughe settled upon the same section and Warbritton upon 34, next west and up Wahoo Creek. They too experienced trouble with the Pawnees and it is related that Mrs. Warbritton, of Amazonian instincts, became provoked at the impoliteness of a Pawnee brave and soundly thrashed him with an ox goad, much to the delight of the red man's comrades. She became a "much brave squaw" in their eyes.

   In June, 1857, Harrison Ramsey settled upon the south side of the Wahoo, about one mile above the settlement place of Mr. Warbritton; his wife gave birth to the first white child born in


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          35

the county, in March, 1858. Thomas K. Chamberlain also came in 1857 and located near the junction of Mosquito Creek with the Wahoo. In 1860 came the following: Austin Smith, John Smith, Henry Howe, Stephen Brown, Solomon Henry and Mr. Aldrich, all of them from the State of Wisconsin. They located upon the table lands north of Warbritton's place. Perry Tar-penning came in 1861 and settled between Warbritton and Smith. In 1858 Samuel Hahn settled upon section 1, town 12, range 9, then a part of Cass County. In 1861 Charles Richard located on the Platte bottom, town 17, range 6; and in the fall of the same year John Garrett and a Mr. Anderson located near him. W. H. McCowan and Doctor Wood settled upon the table land just below the Pohocco headland in 1863 and Perry Reed on the headland bluff in 1863.

ANOTHER VERSION

   Another authority upon the early history of the county phrases the facts differently and puts a slightly different interpretation upon them. In the main they are as follows:

   On June 10, 1856, Reuben Warbritton left Williamsport, Warren County, Indiana, to locate a home in the State of Nebraska. He was accompanied by his wife and in the latter days of August crossed the Missouri River at Plattsmouth, intending to push on to Saline Ford (Ashland). However, owing to the late frosts of that year he remained at Cedar Island for the winter. They had been twenty-three days on their journey, driving their stock before them and camping at the side of the road at night.

   About the middle of August, 1856, Mr. Joseph Stambaugh, with his wife and three small children, their possessions in a farm wagon drawn by a team of horses, set out on foot to find a home in the Northwest, just where they did not know. They had penetrated about one hundred miles into Iowa when they met some friends who persuaded them to go to Nebraska. In eighteen days they had reached Plattsmouth and there crossed the Missouri River. They continued on their way and reached Saline Ford on the evening of September 6th. The next morning they crossed the ford and camped in the deserted building left by the


36          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

speculators. Here they remained one month, while the father explored the nearby country with the view of finding a suitable place to locate permanently. They returned to Plattsmouth October 8th, to remain during the winter months.

   In March, 1857, Mr. Warbritton, in company with Joseph Stambaugh and his hired man, Mr. John Aughe, left Plattsmouth and came to the ford. Warbritton took up a claim on section 34s, town 13, range 9; Stambaugh on section 35, also Aughe. During this time Warbritton and Aughe broke the first ground in Saunders County, with which to construct a sod house. They also aided Stambaugh to build a similar home. These were all located upon section 35. The dimensions of Stambaugh's house were 17 by 17 feet, while the other two were 10 by 12 feet.

   In June, 1857, Harrison Ramsey settled at a point about one mile above Warbritton, on section 28. In 1858 Samuel Hahn located upon section 1, township 12, range 10, but remained for only two years, when his health failed and he went to Cedar Island, and there died. He was a man respected by the settlers. Thomas K. Chamberlain came from Vermont and settled upon a claim at the junction of Mosquito and Wahoo creeks. A Mr. Bryan settled in township 13, just north of Ashland, on section 26. In 1857 Archibald Wiggin located at Saline Ford and constructed a brush dam across the creek. He remained but a short time and then his claim and interests became the property of Dennis Dean, who came to Ashland in the fall of 1863 and built his well-known mill the following summer.

   During the years 1858-59 the little Village of Ashland became very noted. There were not many settlers, however, for none seemed to come to Saunders County to settle. In the interval of time great quantities of freight were shipped by the Government contractors, Majors, Russell & Waddle, which included the supplies to Col. Sydney Johnston's command engaged in the Mormon war. Ashland became a depot of supplies for the freighters and emigrants and the stock of produce of the settlers found a ready market and commanded the topmost prices. Saline Ford was famous until the Union Pacific Railroad was built through and the new means of freight traffic opened. This helped the future Town of Ashland.


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          37

   In 1862 Hon. A. B. Fuller, Myron Moe, William Warbritton and Dr. William McClung located in the county.

EARLY CONDITIONS

   It will be understood that the progress of the county prior to 1860 was very slow. There was no reliable census returns taken in or before the year mentioned, for the reason that there were only a score or so of people living within the boundaries. In 1868 the election records show that there were 383 votes polled, while the assessment of property amounted to the sum of $180,412. The coming of the railroad and prospects of another, the wide advertising given the state in the East, gave rise to an increased emigration about this time and by the year 1870 there were 4,594 people living in the county and more coming in constantly. The value of the property had also increased to $958,-913; every acre of Government land had been taken up by the new settlers. This influx of population was checked in 1871, not by the lack of available cheap lands, but because one-half of the ground was claimed by two large railroad corporations which were quarreling over their respective titles to the same. Consequently, neither of them could legally sell out their rights. This condition of affairs was a serious drawback to the development of the county in those years; new settlers were kept out and those who had already located here were prevented from making proper improvements. The lack of railroad facilities was another detriment to the growth of the community. Manufacturing was impossible and the soil could not produce to its full capacity as their grain could not be marketed in the outside world. Had the two railroads, the Omaha and Southwestern and the Ashland and Columbus roads, been able to construct their lines through the county without business wrangles and had they been properly received by the people, Saunders County would have taken definite shape many years before it did. Mr. Stocking said in regard to this:

   "The completion of these roads within the stipulated time would, ere this, have added fifty percentum to the population and one hundred percentum to the wealth thereof. Westward it would have given her a connection with the great continental road, and access to the mining markets in the mountains. East-


38          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

ward, it would have given her direct communication with Omaha, and the benefit of all her numerous connections-giving- her ready access to the splendid stone quarries of the Platte River, which she so much needs for many purposes, and it would have insured, at an early day, the building of a north and south road connecting Lincoln and Fremont. It would have built up towns within her midst and held her commerce at home to enrich her own people - have inaugurated manufactories and insured domestic prosperity.

EARLY RAILROAD DIFFICULTIES

   "But alas! the opportune moment has passed, never to return. The people not realizing their present needs nor foreseeing then-future wants, were misled by the false representations of interested parties abroad, and designing knaves at home. The friends of the scheme were abused, maligned and insulted in many ways and upon all occasions. But the time of sober second thought has arrived. Reason has subdued passion. A revolution in public sentiment has occurred; and the people are now warmly in favor of said connections and willing to extend their material aid towards securing them. Under the pressure of this strong public sentiment, notwithstanding the stringency of the money market and the general stagnation of business throughout the country, an effort was made last year (1873) to inaugurate the building of a railroad through the county. Meetings were held for this purpose; a committee was appointed to confer with railroad corporations and railroad builders. The labors of this committee resulted in obtaining two propositions from parties deemed at the time responsible for their promises. One of these propositions came from parties at Omaha and proposed to build a narrow gauge from that city westerly to Wahoo and on through the county to some point in Polk County; and asking of this county the sum of $140,000 in her coupon bonds as a bonus for so doing -- promising to build said road on or before the first day of November, 1876.

   "The other proposition came from a corporation known as the Atchison and Nebraska, who have a line of road running from the Town of Atchison, Kans., to Lincoln in Nebraska, and which proposed to build an extension of their broad gauge road from


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          39

the latter city of Fremont in Dodge County, Neb., and to a connection with the U. P., S. C. & P. and the F. & E. V. roads at that point. They also asked of this county $140,000 of her coupon bonds as a bonus and promised to build and operate the road on or before the first day of October, 1876.

   "As the county could not legally issue so large a sum as the two propositions called for, the people, through their delegates, met in convention to decide which proposition should be accepted. On balloting in the convention it was found that the A. & N. proposition was carried by a majority of two-thirds of all the votes cast.

   "The Omaha party now modified their proposition, asking precinct instead of county bonds, to the amount of $140,000. The proposition as modified, was submitted to the vote of the people at a special election called for October 16, 1875.

   "The A. & N. proposition was carried in the county by a large majority of the votes polled, and the modified Omaha proposition was carried in sixteen of the twenty-one precincts. The A. &: N. Company made a preliminary survey of their line during file following winter, but nothing further was immediately done.

   "Later Supt. S. H. H. dark, of the Union Pacific Railroad, offered a proposition to the voters of Saunders County, in which he proposed to build a broad gauge road through the county, via Wahoo, from a point on the U. P. at, or near Valley Station, running west to the western line of the county, in consideration of which he asked of the county $140,000 in bonds, payable in twenty years at 10 per cent interest per annum, and in order to convince the people of his good faith in the matter he offered to deposit $50,000 in the hands of three trustees to be delivered to the county provided the road was not built as per stipulation, consequently, on the 28th of August, 1876, a mass meeting was held in the courthouse at Wahoo, which was well attended by people from all parts of the county. This meeting requested the commissioners to call an election to vote upon the proposition submitted by the railroad company, which they did, setting the day of election on the 10th of October. During the intervening time a strong fight was made by the opponents of bonds, but the need of railroad transportation was so apparent that when the votes were counted it was found that the opposition was quite small,


40          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

the vote standing 2,033 for bonds and 498 against, giving the requisite two-thirds majority.

   "The conditions of the proposition were that the road should be built and regular trains running to Wahoo, on or before the 15th day of January, 1877, and to the west line of the county on or before the 1st day of July, 1877, said road to be known as the Omaha & Republican Valley. In the building of the road the company displayed unusual energy and it was completed to Wahoo on December 26, 1876, twenty-one days before the time fixed in the proposition for completing the same; and on the 29th of December, 1876, an excursion from Omaha, comprising some two hundred of the leading business men, capitalists and railroad men of that city, came to Wahoo, and the next day some three hundred of the citizens of Saunders County went to Omaha over the new railroad."

   This marks the beginning of the railroads in Saunders County. The county is now admirably covered by four systems, with their branches, practically every town having good train service. The location and construction of these later roads is described elsewhere.

FIRST VITAL STATISTICS

   The narrative account of the first marriages, by Moses Stocking, is quoted verbatim. The gentle satire throughout the quotation makes it doubly interesting.

   "As a reminiscence of the past I may be permitted to state that the first marriage license issued in the county was granted by Andrew Marble, probate judge, November 7, 1856, and that in accordance with the statute in such case made and provided, the aforesaid judge, on the same day, joined in marriage Mr. Samuel V. Bumgarden and Miss Lucinda Hooker, all of Saunders County.

   "The second license issued was granted by Jacob Sanders, probate judge, and for the especial benefit of his worthy predecessor in office. Armed with the shield of Venus, the modest ex-judge and the fair bride, Miss Sarah M. Brush, applied to our ingenious fellow citizen, Dennis Dean, Esq., who as matrimonial blacksmith did the welding and pronounced them as one. Thus


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          41

were two cases disposed of during the first two years of the county's existence.

   "The third marriage solemnized within the county does not appear upon the probate record, for the reason that the male party of the transaction obtained his license from Cass County, but as the case presents some novel features, illustrating how frontier justices sometimes blunder in their endeavors to administer the law, we will relate it here. As some of the parties are still living (1875) we will suppress all names as they might feel uneasy at this revelation.

   "Armed with their Cass County license, the parties appeared at evening before a venerable magistrate of this county and requested him to dispense the legal solder which should make them one. The accommodating squire, ever ready to further the pleasure of his friends, proceeded at once with the ceremony, declaring that those whom he had joined together no man should put asunder. Joy was triumphant! All passed smoothly until morning, when one of those imps of deviltry who are always on the hunt for mischief, hinted to the parties that as their license came from Cass County, it could not be valid in Saunders County, therefore their marriage by a justice of the latter county could not be legal -- in fact was null and void. Here was a dilemma. The justice was speedily informed of the difficulty. 'Well! Well!' said he after a moment's thought, 'There may be something in this. Let me see! Oh, I can fix it. Here you two jump into your wagon and drive over into Cass County -- it's only two miles and I will go with you and marry you there.' When the county line had been crossed, 'Halt,' says the squire, so there in the wild prairie, out of sight of civilization, the venerable justice again pronounced them one, never dreaming that he was as far beyond his jurisdiction in this instance as the license was in the first."

   The first white child born in the county was a son of Harrison Ramsey and wife, born in March, 1858, about one mile north of Ashland on the south side of Wahoo Creek. As said before, the second white child born in the county was John Stambaugh.

   The death of Mr. Aldrich in the fall of 1861 was the first in Saunders County. He suffocated in a well on the farm of Perry Tarpenning.


42          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

   The first naturalization papers issued in the County of Saunders were made out for Thomas Johnson, a native of Denmark, on May 12, 1873. On the same day Alexander Graham, a native of Great Britain, and Peter Campbell, of the same place, took out papers. The records show that Charles Hillman took out papers at the same time as these three men, hut his native country is not given.

   The first Austrian to be naturalized was George Elbling on May 26, 1874. The first Swede was John Hanson, on the same day as Elbling. Joseph Pop was the first Bohemian to be naturalized, his papers being issued to him on May 26, 1874. James Craig was the first registered as a native of Scotland, although Peter Campbell was a native of Scotland but gave the broader classification of Great Britain. Henry Smith was the first from Holland; David Robert the first from France; and John H. Wagermann the first from Prussia.

AN OLD REPORT

   In volume 12, Nebraska Miscellaneous Documents, is found the following reports of Saunders County of the period of 1877:

   "Saunders County was organized in 1856, has an area of 740 square miles and a population of 12,514 people. The report for 1877 gives 139,808 acres in cultivation, 616,620 bushels of wheat, 2,199,740 bushels of corn, 5,958 horses, 606 mules, 9,944 cattle, 2,159 sheep, 28,988 swine, 8 flour mills, 3 cheese factories, 10 churches, 2 banks, 96 schools, 31 miles of railway, and 2 newspapers. Ten per cent of the county is valley, the balance rolling prairie, with river bluffs. County is finely watered by Platte River, Wahoo Creek and a dozen smaller streams. Wood and building stone is in fair supply. Lands, $5 to $12 wild, and $7 to $30 improved. Wahoo, the county seat, has a population of 600 and Ashland has 900. The mean elevation of the county is 1,250 feet."

   We know today that some of these statements are incorrect, but the table is presented for the sole purpose of giving an idea of the extent and size of the county at that time.


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          43

OLD WEATHER REPORTS

   The subject of weather conditions in the years long passed is often a favorite subject of discussion, and just as often there is a difference of opinion. For the authority for the tables below we quote the United States weather reports for the years in question



      Mean Temp. Snow Rain
Year--    Seasons Sea. Yr. Inches Inches
1866 Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall
19.99
47.03
72.78
49.75
.....
47.58
.....
.....
11.45
.....
.....
.....
.....
29.35
.....
.....
1867 Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall
20.15
39.20
74.31
52.57
.....
46.47
.....
.....
35.15
.....
.....
.....
.....
31.51
.....
.....
1868 Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall
20.85
51.35
75.13
47.90
.....
48.84
.....
.....
27.70
.....
.....
.....
.....
37.85
.....
.....
1869 Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall
21.61
47.75
42.44
45.10
.....
47.42
.....
.....
39.00
.....
.....
.....
.....
47.35
.....
.....
1870 Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall
22.14
46.17
70.00
47.64
.....
46.61
.....
.....
22.00
.....
.....
.....
.....
32.10
.....
.....
1871 Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall
22.28
49.52
71.97
42.96
.....
46.82
.....
.....
18.00
.....
.....
.....
.....
32.25
.....
.....
1872 Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall
21.81
37.80
74.22
47.91
.....
45.69
.....
.....
12.80
.....
.....
.....
.....
31.35
.....
.....
1873 Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall
17.75
46.92
76.22
48.79
.....
47.85
.....
.....
10.06
.....
.....
.....
.....
49.65
.....
.....


   Average for eight years, 47.14 degrees; rain and melted snow, 36.10 inches; snow, 22 inches.

   According to the observations made by the United States Signal Service at Omaha, latitude 41 degrees, 16 minutes, longitude 96 degrees, the annual mean temperature as indicated by the barometer was 29.9 inches, by the thermometer 48.1 degrees; total rainfall including snow 34.8.


44          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

   The following is a list of the coldest days for 18 years. This is interesting in comparison with the recent tables presented farther along in this volume.

   December 8, 1857, 14°° below; December 6, 1859, 20° below; January 1, 1860, 15° below; January 21, 1861, 24° below; January 17, 1862, 17° below; January 16, 1863, 10° below; January 7, 1864, 32° below; March 9, 1865, 17° below; February 15, 1866, 32° below; March 13, 1867, 20° below; January 16, 1868, 26° below; December 11, 1869, 30" below; January 18, 1870, 133 below; December 24, 1871, 16° below; January 31, 1872, 12° below; January 28, 1873, 22° below; January 24, 1874, 14° below; January 6, 1875, 21° below.

A TYPICAL PIONEER EXPERIENCE

   The father and mother of C. J. Anderson of Wahoo Precinct came from Sweden to Illinois in 1867. The father died in 1868, leaving the mother with a family of two boys, aged eight and four. She worked as a man in the harvest fields of Illinois, binding her station and receiving $5 per day. In three years' time she had saved $300. She contemplated going to Kansas and taking up a homestead, but was diverted by an advertisement by Preacher Larson in a Chicago paper. Larson's advertisements reached her where she lived in Andover, Ill., in the spring of 1870, and she joined with five other Swedish families of that locality and emigrated to Saunders County, Neb., where Larson located them on Government land. Great credit is due Preacher Larson for the efforts he made to start his people in settlement. He started three communities of his people here, also three Swedish Lutheran churches, and at first was their pastor. The place in which he lived was called Alma. He conducted morning service at this place then, with his satchel, going afoot or horseback, he traveled to Swedeburg and preached there in the afternoon. From there he would go to Malmo, then called Edensburg, where he preached in the evening.

   The Swedish families came by train to Council Bluffs, IA., and here they hired a team for $50 and loaded the wagon with their belongings; the men, women and children, in all six families, were forced to walk. They followed the Missouri River down the


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          45

Iowa side until opposite Plattsmouth, then ferried across and came to Ashland, fording Salt Creek and Saline Ford. It was the month of March and the water was very icy, so they decided that all should ride across. Reaching the center of the stream the wheels of the wagon became mired and there they stuck. The men finally unhooked the team and went into Ashland, where there were but a few houses at that time, and procured another wagon to haul the people from the center of the creek. They went to Preacher Larson's dugout in Wahoo Precinct, located on the site of his later home, and the families were housed there while they were building their own dugouts.

   The first year Mrs. Anderson hired two acres broken and she and her son planted, it to sod corn with spade and hoe. It grew excellently and was considered good corn, but every morning they had to get up early and chase from ten to twenty antelopes and many prairie chickens from the field. C. J. Anderson recalled the first trip to Wahoo, with his mother, his brother Oscar, and a cousin, Hulda Anderson, afterwards Mrs. Martin Berggren. They walked to town, carrying an old-fashioned basket filled with butter and eggs. Jim Lee had a little store in the town at that time, about 12 by 16 feet in size, and here they did their trading. Butter and eggs were high and coffee and sugar were equally so, so there was not much produce to carry back home. The mother bought two cows from Mr. Madison of Cass County, also three pigs in Ashland; an uncle wheeled the porkers sixteen miles in a wheelbarrow. When they were deposited at home it was found that there was no lumber with which to build a pen, so a hole was dug in the ground and this answered the same purpose. Mrs. Anderson made several trips to Ashland, walking, carrying her eggs and butter and returning with a sack of flour across her shoulders.

   The first school was one of a month's duration. There was no school money in those days and the first class was held in a dug-out, with one small window with four panes and the seats were made out of sod. There was no timber to be had in this part of the country, except on some islands in the Platte River. The annual prairie fires destroyed every timber sprout. Slough hay was used largely for fuel, twisted by hand into hard rolls.


46          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

   The first Swedish settler in the county was a man named Wall, who located on Sand Creek, near the present site of Colon, some time between 1866 and 1868. Mr. Wall and family had come as far as Nebraska City with a band of Mormons who were on their way to the West. At the town mentioned Wall and family separated from the lot and located. They resided in the county until 1883, when they sold out and moved to Salt Lake City.

   In 1863 there emigrated from Horjo Forsamling, Kristianstad Lan, Sweden, the widow Johanna Berggren, with her sons, X. B., A. L., Olof and Martin, and her daughter, Nellie. The family stopped in Chicago and the eldest son, X. B., found work with the noted horticulturist, Mr. Peterson of Rose Hill, and soon became his foreman. In 1867 X. B. Berggren traveled west to investigate the country. He got as far as Burt County, where a Swedish settlement had already started. He was favorably impressed with the country and, having heard of a plan to move the state capital south of the Platte River, he moved nearer to that location. Thompson Bissell, Moses Stocking, William H. Dech, Uncle Billy Dech and family were the only settlers at the time in the interior of the county. The present site of Lincoln then held only a few sod houses. In 1867 Berggren went to Fremont and secured a wagon and team, with two men who were going to stake out a mail route to the new state capital. Axes and spades were taken along and when Wahoo Creek was reached a half day was spent bridging it.

   On October 12, 1867, Berggren filed a claim on section 32, township 15, range 7, and at the same time filed for fourteen others, namely: L. Christiansen, Otto Huchlander, A. I.. Berggren, Jonas Sandberg. Eric Finwall, A. Plumbgren, Frank Peterson, John Johnson and Nels Nelson. On March .5, 1868, X. B. Berggren and the remainder of the band settled on their respective homesteads.

   In the spring of 1869 there arrived direct from the same province in Sweden from which the Berggrens came, thirty families, all of whom settled in the vicinity of the present Town of Swede-burg. Among them were: N. A. Aspengren, Nels Jonson, Truls Person, John and Magnus Erickson, John and Nels Gib-


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          47

son, Jons and Mons Martinson, Nels Eliason, Hans Hanson, Hans Hokanson and A. G. Quick. In the fall of the same year 100 more families came. It is impossible to get the names of all of them, but at the organization of the Swedish Church on April ?0 1870 the following were mentioned besides those listed above:

   Sam Peterson (Koping), Martin Jeppson, Carl Carlson, Bengt and Oke Swenson, Samuel Peterson (Linkoping), Olof Olson, A. G. Olson, Peter Olson, P. E. Anderson, A. G. Goranson, C. J. Larson, Swen Swenson, A. P. Wallin, Andrew Eliason, Hokan Olson and Truls Hokanson.

   L. Isaacson, later a grain and stock dealer, was the first to settle in the vicinity of Malmo. He was from Kristianstad Lan, having emigrated to this country in 1868, and settled or homesteaded in the spring of the next year. Andrew Blomberg came two weeks later from Omaha with a colony of Swedes from Dalcadia. Following is a list of these settlers around Malmo: L. T. Bruce, J. Bredenburg, A. Helsing, P. Blomberg, A. Rosenberg, J. Nelson, J. Larson, L. Ljungstrom, Bengt Olson and three sons, Jacob and John Frostrum, L. Lundberg, O. Nelson, P. Nelson, P. Pherson, Per Olson, J. Erickson, H. Hokanson, M. Erickson, M. Hokanson, ? Eliason, Olof Bostrum. The Bruces were descendants of the famous Scottish chieftain, Robert Bruce, who had fled Scotland and settled in Sweden to escape the persecution of the English throne.

   In 1867 a Baptist colony was formed seven miles north of the Town of Mead and was called Estina. The colonists were from Minnesota and Moline, Ill., originally from the north of Sweden. There were: Andrew, John A. and Gulick Wickland, P. O. Hjeltman, A. Ekquist, L. E. Lund, Louis Anderson, P. Olson (Franzer), and in 1870 came C. E. Uppman from Brooklyn, N. Y.

   The Malmo settlement was originally the first Swedish settlement in the county with an organized church. This church was organized January 15, 1870. Berggren was a settler in 1868 and after him came: Swen Hedenschog, A. Larson, from Nykoping, and his sons; Lewis and Gust Monteen came June 10, 1869. P. Hennning came in November, 1870, and left his wife on the homestead while he went to Omaha to find work. J. A. Allmen, Andrew Hallner, Pehr Olson, N. J. Heldt, P. Gibson, A. Larson and S. A. Janson also arrived in 1869.

Vol. I-4


48          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

   In the spring of 1869 G. Sandberg settled on section 6, township 13, range 9, three miles from the present site of Memphis. There were also Peter Thulin, Andrew Larson and Eric Charling at the same place.

EARLY SETTLEMENT OF TOWNS

   The early history of Wahoo, Ashland, Valparaiso and the other of the larger towns of the county is recounted in the chapters dealing in those towns.

MISCELLANEOUS SETTLEMENTS

   John Kolb was a sailor, a native of Germany, and located in Saunders County in 1869 and took up homesteading in Marble Precinct. When he first came there was not a town in the county. All the prairie was roamed by Indians and antelope: about three miles from his settlement, near Marble Island, there was a large Indian village. Kolb did his milling at Ashland, then a small village with a few cottonwood shanties. He hauled corn to Fremont and sold it for 12 cents a bushel and the purchaser would use it for fuel. For the first seven years of his life in Saunders County Kolb resided in a dugout.

   Julius Christiansen was one of the first of the settlers in Pohocco Precinct. He came from Denmark in 1866, remained in Chicago for a year, then came to Omaha as a bridge carpenter for the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1869 he came to Saunders County and bought an eight-acre relinquishment and homesteaded. After harvest he constructed a 16 by 24 foot house and then went to Omaha after his bride. They returned in a lumber wagon, sleeping under the wagon-bed at night. Christiansen laid out the first road across the prairie to Fremont. The first year he paid 75 cents a bushel for seed corn which was worth only 20 cents after it was grown. Drouth and grasshoppers were the two enemies he and the other settlers had to fight continually.

   Joseph Forgette came to the county in the late '60s. Ralph C. Johnson of Maine came to the county in 1868 with an ox team. He homesteaded eighty acres of land where Cedar Bluffs now stands. William Ellison, of Ireland, came to Marietta Precinct


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          49

in June, 1869, from Dubuque, Ia., traveling in a covered wagon, with his wife and two small children. He built his first house of lumber which he hauled from Ashland, paying $60 per thousand for it. Walter Crinklaw was a native of Scotland, a descendant of Sir Walter Scott. He came to Saunders County, Neb., in the fall of 1868 and filed a claim on an eighty-acre preemption, but owing to his wife's serious illness he did not take up active settlement until the following year. He made proof on this preemption and immediately homesteaded the eighty acres adjoining on the east. Silver Creek ran through his land and he built near it, planting and sheltering trees and small orchards at the same time. John W. McAuley homesteaded in Wahoo Precinct in the '80s. John Clausen and wife were also early comers.

   August Nygren homesteaded eighty acres of land in Marietta Precinct in 1868. He was a mason and carpenter by trade and built the first frame house in Saunders County for Mr. P. Tarpenning, north of Ashland. Mr. Nygren died in 1903. During the early days he lived in a dugout, with a door in one end and a window in the other. He had a very hard time. He purchased lumber for a house in Fremont and when he settled on his homestead he found that he was $30 in debt. He raised some corn with an ox team and hired a neighbor with a team of horses to haul a twenty-five bushel load of ear corn to Ashland. He also sent a letter to mail by this neighbor. When the obliging neighbor returned from his trip Nygren had to pay him for the letter postage, as the corn had sold for 15 cents a bushel and the neighbor had taken the entire proceeds as a hauling charge.

   In 1857 Archibald Wiggin settled at Saline Ford and built a brush dam across the creek which afterward became the property of Dennis Dean, who had come to Ashland in the fall of 1863 and built a flouring mill. A. B. Fuller and Myron Moe were two other settlers of the vicinity. William and Jacob Saunders came in the fall of 1863. Thompson Bissell in July, 1864, and Moses Stocking in 1865, were the first comers to Stocking Precinct.

   The first men to make settlements in Chapman Precinct were Isaac M. Godspeed and Peter Campbell. who took up claims in 1867. The following year Thomas P. Chapman arrived, also J. D. Lehmkuhl, John Booth, David P. Cummings and L. W. Gil-


50          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

christ. The name of the precinct was after Mr. Chapman. In 1869 R. H. Thomas and John Thomas arrived. James P. Dunlap and Christena Campbell were the first persons to be married; this was in March, 1871. The first death in the precinct was that of Daniel Campbell in October, 1868. In 1874 a postoffice was established in the precinct and bore the name of Troy, with W. E. Hill as postmaster. R. H. Thomas was the first to take up a business enterprise, opening a store with a general stock at Weston after the completion of the railroad.

   In the spring of 1869 R. Fleming settled on Sand Creek at section 10, and in the following summer was followed by Charles Day, W. D. Farris, H. O. Connor, J. Te Poel and a Mr. Griffin, all locating in what is now Douglas Precinct. At the close of the season James Kuypers, Oliver Scow, Edward Scow and C. O. Scow all located in the vicinity of Duck Creek, the south branch of Sand Creek. Kuypers preached the first sermon in the spring of 1869 in his dugout. Bohemia Precinct was settled in 1869 by M. H. Noteware and T. Killian. The first postoffice was established in this section of the county at Sand Creek in 1870, with R. Fleming as postmaster.

   In Rock Creek Precinct W. L. Ingram located upon section 20 at the point later known as Ingram's Grove of black walnut and oak, about the year 1863, on the overland trail from Rocky Ford to the Platte River. He also took up a claim upon section 2, through which the old trail passed and he maintained this as a ranch. G. W. Marshall and James Kelly settled in 1868 and John Scott, William Scott and Samuel Scott in 1869.

   In the year 1870 B. U. Traverse settled upon section 14, Chester Precinct, and, during this same year, Jonathan Crisp, David Wilson and Clayton Troth located here. In the vicinity of Iowa Ridge J. J. Miller and James Graham were the first settlers, in 1871, followed very soon after by M. M. Runyan, Charles Riggs, H. L. Stowitts, D. O. Elliott, Jesse Burbank, Gilbert Fleming , and J. S. Williams, in the spring of 1872. The first birth in the precinct was a son to C. J. Bogardus on February 1, 1872. The first people married were Adam Wikel and Martha Crisp. The first death was that of a child of B. U. Traverse and the child was buried on the farm belonging to W. W. Hall. The settlers in this part of the county were compelled in the early years to bear


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          51

more than their share of the burdens which commonly fell to the lot of the pioneer. A great prairie fire swept over the precinct in October, 1871, and again in October, 1872, burning the crops, hay, stables and a large amount of stock. In April, 1873, from the 12th to the 15th, a heavy snow storm visited the community, accompanied with extremely cold weather. Much stock and a few of the settlers were frozen to death. On August 4, 1873, the grasshoppers first came and in July, beginning with the 24th, 1874, literally ate up the country. The settlers bore these misfortunes as best they could, patiently waiting for the day when prosperity should dawn upon them.

   T. L. Adams, J. Elliott and J. Ellison settled in Marietta Precinct in 1867. Adams located upon section 22, Elliott and Ellison upon section 20 in 1868, J. Gilchrist also located on section 20, and J. F. Gregory upon section 14. William Ellison arrived in 1870 and made his claim upon section 21. Marietta Precinct was formerly connected with Center, and was named in honor of Mrs. Marietta Copp, wife of C. S. Copp.

   In June, 1867, Peter Kastl made a settlement in Elk Precinct and in 1868 he was followed by Michael Petrzeska, John Wanus, James Reap and Joseph Simanek. Peter Kastl entered the first land in June, 1867, the tract being section 20, township 15, range 5 east. In 1874 Stephen Crawford opened a store with a stock of general merchandise upon section 30. Peter Kastl was a native of Bohemia and was the first settler in the precinct and the first Bohemian settler in Saunders County. He was quite a hard worker in the Catholic Church of his community.

   In July, 1868, E. and H. A. Andrews settled on Rock Creek, at the southwest corner of section 32, township 13, Richland Precinct and at the close of the season W. J. Gibbs and J. Nelson located on the west half of the same section. They named the new settlement Ceresco, more of which town is related later. T. W. Riddle settled on section 6 in the northwest corner of the precinct, but moved to Ceresco in 1870 and opened the first store in this section of the county. About 1870 a colony of Swedes located in the precinct, and were followed shortly by a Mr. Miller at Lone Valley and the Fullsom brothers at Milton. Hiram Chub settled on section 23, at Bradford, in 1870, and Mr. Conkling at Rose Hill.


52          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

   A postal route was established in 1870 between Fremont and Ceresco, passing through Swedeburg, Wahoo and Cedar Bluffs. This was the first mail route established in Saunders County. T. W. Riddle was postmaster at Ceresco and J. M. Lee at Wahoo. The mail was transported by stage coach twice each week. This stage line offered the only opportunity of reaching the interior of Saunders County with the exception of the old Government trail which passed through the south side of the county. In 1874 a postoffice was established at Bradford and another at Lone Valley, also a little later at Rose Hill.

   C. S. Copp, James Hapgood, A. J. Seaman, B. Johnson, J. and O. Trexell were the first settlers in Center Precinct. F. M. Stratton and L. D. Copp made settlements in 1869. Stratton afterwards engaged in the lumber business at Wahoo, while C. S. and L. D. Copp engaged in the legal profession at the same place.

   In the year 1863, approximately, a man named Barnhill established what was known as the old Barnhill Ranch and maintained it until 1865, when he sold out to A. J. Jemison, who in turn ran the place until the coming of the railroad. George Newman, from whom the precinct takes its name, James Dunlap and M. B. Giffin settled here in 1867, J. Worley and Joseph Kastle in 1868; Barnhill settled upon section 32, Giffin and Worley upon 30, and Newman upon 29. T. E. Cook and Martha J. Jemison were the first to be married, in 1865. The ceremony was performed by Reverend Webb, a Baptist minister. He was thought to have been one of the old circuit riders.

   Joel D. Cook was a settler of Stocking Precinct in 1869. David P. Cummings came in 1868. William H. Dickinson settled in Wahoo Precinct in 1868 and homesteaded. He served at one time as county surveyor. Randall H. Knapp was one of the 1868 emigrants to Cedar Precinct; he was for two terms county treasurer and was the first mayor of Wahoo. R. B. Morton came to a point four miles from Wahoo in 1870 and homesteaded. Charles Perky, now of Wahoo, came to the county in 1868 and started to farm at Cedar Bluffs. Thomas W. Riddle settled at Ashland in 1866 and worked on a farm. In 1868 he took up a homestead on Rock Creek, this county; in 1872 he started a general merchandise store at Ceresco and was the founder of the


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          53

postoffice at that place, also the first postmaster, 1872-79. In 1881 he became proprietor of the De Roe House at Wahoo. James B. Sturdevant located in Saunders County in 1869. He was justice of the peace in Marietta Precinct. George H. Stocking, son of Moses Stocking, took up a claim in this county in July, 1865, at Wahoo; Stocking Precinct was named after Moses Stocking. His death occurred in the year 1881. F. M. Stratton was an 1868 homesteader; served as county clerk six years and engaged in the lumber and agricultural business.

   Joseph Arnold, an early lawyer and justice of the peace, came to Nebraska in 1864 and took up a homestead four miles south of the present Town of Ashland. Here he remained for one year, then came to Ashland and engaged in lime burning; the first business of the kind in the county. In the spring of 1867 he went back on his farm, where he remained until 1872, then returned to Ashland and was appointed justice of the peace by the board of county commissioners, in which office he served three years. He was admitted to the practice of law in September, 1874. He was a member of the State Legislature from Cass County in 1865 and was one of the framers of the first constitution of Nebraska.

   John P. Aughe, mentioned in the earlier part of this chapter, was born in Clinton County, Ind., January 8, 1834, and came to Nebraska in September, 1856, locating on Four Mile Creek in Cass County, Plattsmouth Precinct, and in February, 1857, came to Saunders County and made a claim on Wahoo Creek, where he stayed until April, 1864. During this period he made several freighting trips across the plains, being absent for weeks at a time. He was married in 1859 to Cecelia D. Throckmorton of Cass County. Mrs. Aughe was the first school teacher in Saunders County and one of the original members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

   Lyman R. Brush, another early member of the Ashland community, came in 1869 and clerked for Dr. William M. McClurg. He later started a store for himself. Albert B. Chamberlain, once postmaster at Ashland, came in August, 1870. Daniel D. Cooley arrived in 1870 and clerked for a time, then entered the banking business. David Dean, son of Dennis Dean, came to Ashland in the spring of 1864 with his parents. David remained with his father in the milling business until 1871, when he opened


54          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

a lumber yard at Ashland, one of the first in the County of Saunders. Josiah J. Deck came to Nebraska in October, 1868, and took up a homestead in section 2, Clear Creek Precinct. Col. Rodney Dexter came to the state in January, 1868, and took up a claim at Ashland, but soon after began work as a carpenter. Abel B. Fuller, a farmer and stock raiser, made his appearance in Ashland in 1863, one year after coming to the state, opened a general store, and on the side conducted a freighting business overland to the mountains. He afterward took up the real estate business; was a member of the State Legislature; and also deputy county clerk. He was one of the first board of regents of the State University of Lincoln. James R. Hayward located on section 18, Clear Creek Precinct, in 1866. He passed through here in 1860 on his way to Colorado, but returned in the year noted. Frank W. Mclntyre came to Clear Creek Precinct in 1868. Silas H. Nichols came to Ashland in 1869 and opened the first furniture store in the county. Hiram J. Paddock started a store in Ashland in 1870. It is said that this store was the first on the site of the present business portion of the town. The lumber for the building was hauled overland from Omaha. Jacob Saunders came to section 26, Clear Creek Precinct, in the fall of 1863.

   Joseph Stambaugh, as noted prior to this, was the first settler in the county. He was born in York County, Penn., March 12, 1823, the son of John and Catherine Stambaugh. The parents were natives of Pennsylvania and both died at an advanced age. In 1842 Joseph left his native home and came to Ohio, where he worked as a carpenter until the fall of 1845, then went to Michigan, where he continued his work, also making wagons, till the fall of 1855. At this time he came to Fulton County, Ill., and remained until August, 1856, then moved with his family to Salt Creek Ford, arriving September 6, 1856. He was married April 14, 1850, in Michigan to Catherine Zimmerman.

   Reuben L. Warbritton, the other member of the "Stambaugh-Aughe-Warbritton" trio, was born October 6, 1828, in the State of Indiana. He first came to Nebraska in August, 1856, and located at Cedar Island, Cass County. Here he stayed until the spring of 1857, when he moved to Saunders County and settled on section 27, Clear Creek Precinct. He served as county clerk of Saunders County the second term after the county was organ-


PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY          55

ized. He was married at Frankfort December 5, 1853, to Hannah J. Aughe.

   Theodore B. Wilson came to Ashland in 1869 and opened a law office at Ashland. He was a native of Ohio. He was admitted to the practice in Nebraska at the first term of court held in Saunders County, with Judge Lake presiding. He was county attorney for some years and a member of the first board of trustees of Ashland.

   Henry Bates came to the State of Nebraska in the autumn of 1865 and stopped at Nebraska City until the following year, then took up a claim in what is now section 22, Oak Creek Precinct. He was one of the first settlers in this part of the county. Marsilliat B. Giffin was a first settler of Newman Precinct, taking up a homestead there in the fall of 1867 and later moving to Oak Creek Precinct. Iver Jensen took up a claim here in 1866. U.K. Johnson came to the county in September, 1865, and took up a homestead on the site of Valparaiso. In the fall of 1869 he opened the first general merchandise store at this town, also conducted a small banking business as a side line. Andrew Johnson was another homesteader of the year 1865. He was the first postmaster of the Town of Valparaiso. Henry E. Throop made his advent to Oak Creek Precinct in 1866 and bought a claim.

   Peter Campbell came to Nebraska in the fall of 1865 and first located at Fort Kearney on the Platte River. He operated a ranch here until July 24, 1867, when a band of hostile Indians visited his ranch and captured four of his children, Christina, Jessie, Peter and Dan, Christina being nineteen years of age, Peter and Dan four years. These children remained in captivity about three months and then they were released through the activities of the United States peace commissioners and the payment of $2,000. After the restoration of his children Peter Campbell moved to Saunders County and settled in Chapman Precinct, in the spring of 1868. He was the first settler in that locality and remained until his death on November 15, 1875. Campbell was a native of Scotland, having crossed the Atlantic to America in 1865, the same year he came to Nebraska.

   Richard H. Thomas came to Nebraska in the fall of 1869 and took up a homestead two miles west of the present Village of


56          PAST AND PRESENT OF SAUNDERS COUNTY

Weston and resided there until the summer of 1877, when he opened the first general merchandise store in that village.

   Isaac N. Phelps came to Nebraska in the spring of 1869 and bought a farm in section 14, Cedar Precinct. He was one of the first to start a school in the Colon district, besides extending great efforts to encourage settlement in this part of the county. He was once traveling agent of the Saunders County Emigration Society.






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